The counter-protest of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo is in danger of being dismissed by the Supreme Court, which is sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) for the electoral protest of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in connection with the vice-presidential race.
Marcos has asked the PET to dismiss the counter-protest filed by Robredo, as it failed to meet the deadline set by law.
In his “motion to strike out or expunge protestee’s verified answer with manifestation and answer ad cautelam to the counter-protest,” Marcos pointed out that Robredo’s counter-protest was filed out of time or beyond the 10-day prescribed period mandated by the PET. Marcos, represented by veteran election lawyer George Erwin Garcia, filed his election protest on June 29, stating that Robredo’s proclamation as vice president was “null and void because the [certificates of canvass]… are not authentic, and may not be used as basis to determine the number of votes that the candidates for vice president received.”
Marcos argued that Robredo’s verified answer with special affirmative defenses and counter protest should have been filed by August 12, the 10th day from her receipt of the summons and protest of Marcos in accordance with Rules 23 and 24 of the PET Rules.
Based on the receiving stamp of the PET clerk, Robredo’s answer was filed on August 15, three days after the August 12 deadline.
Under PET rules, a verified answer to an electoral protest may incorporate a counter-protest but it must be filed within 10 days from receipt of the summons and protest.
“Robredo categorically admitted in her Verified Answer … that she received the summons and protest on 02 August 2016,” Marcos noted.
Marcos, who was only 263,473 votes shy of Robredo’s tally, had accused her of “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” involving the pre-shading of ballots, pre-loading of secure digital storage cards for voting data, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning vote-counting machines, and an “abnormally high” number of unaccounted votes or “undervotes,” among others.
Marcos wants a judicial revision or recount of the ballots and the examination, system audit and verification of the voter’s receipts, election returns and related election documents.
The PET had ordered the preservation of the automated election equipment and records such as vote-counting machines, consolidation and canvass system units, secure digital cards, and other data storage devices in all 92,509 clustered precincts used in the May 2016 elections.